JUCO Sports stop due to COVID-19

Photo by Monica Spencer
All spring sports at Mesa Community College and other Maricopa Community Colleges will cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The district’s decision  comes shortly after the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) made their own decision to halt all spring sports activities.

“Following the recent recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the NJCAA has made the difficult decision to cancel all upcoming basketball championships as well as spring competition, effective immediately,” said a statement from the NJCAA.

All of MCC’s sports teams are under NJCAA rules and were affected by the association’s decision. The stoppage includes practices, championships, regular and postseason play. 

“…Which was the right decision,” said MCC Athletic Director John Mulhern.“I mean, everyone else is basically making the same decision based upon this situation.” 

Mulhern said the NJCAA’s ruling aligned with what the district was already discussing.

MCC teams like softball, golf and baseball were midway through their successful seasons when the ruling came down.

“I just felt terrible for the kids,” MCC Baseball head coach Tony Cirelli said. “They work so hard and sacrifice so much.” 

One silver lining is that the NJCAA will not count this season towards a student’s eligibility as an athlete. Usually, a student athlete can only play two years at a junior college school. With the unique situation, a freshman player this season can return next season and still be considered a freshman athlete, not a sophomore. 

But many players like pitcher Cody Tucker and catcher Caleb Lumbard have already signed with four-year universities for the following season, ending their MCC athletic experience. The halt on athletics also puts a hold on recruitment. All face to face and off-campus recruiting is suspended until April 15, but email, phone calls and texts are permissible. 

“The safety of everybody is number one,” Cirelli said. “Right now it seems like no big deal, but in the long run, this is a really scary thing.”

Junior college athletics is just one of many sports associations canceled or suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, including Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. The popular collegiate basketball tournament March Madness was canceled entirely.

About Author

Aaron Decker is the Sports Editor at the Mesa Legend. He absolutely love sports. He grew up an avid fan of the Pittsburgh Steeler's and moved to Phoenix in 2002, beginning his journey as an Arizona Diamondback fan. When not writing, going to school or watching sports, he is playing his favorite hobby, video games. You can follow him on Twitter @ADecker1138.